Journal Article

Polysialic acid glycomimetics promote myelination and functional recovery after peripheral nerve injury in mice

Ali Mehanna, Bibhudatta Mishra, Nina Kurschat, Christian Schulze, Shan Bian, Gabriele Loers, Andrey Irintchev and Melitta Schachner

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 132, issue 6, pages 1449-1462
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online May 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI:
Polysialic acid glycomimetics promote myelination and functional recovery after peripheral nerve injury in mice

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α2,8 Polysialic acid (PSA) is a carbohydrate attached to the glycoprotein backbone of the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) and implicated in nervous system development and repair. Here, we investigated whether PSA can improve functional recovery after peripheral nerve lesion in adult mice. We applied a functional PSA mimicking peptide or a control peptide in a polyethylene cuff used to surgically reconnect the severed stumps of the femoral nerve before it bifurcates into the motor and sensory branches. Using video-based motion analysis to monitor motor recovery over a 3 month postoperative period, we observed a better functional outcome in the PSA mimetic-treated than in control mice receiving a control peptide or phosphate buffered saline. Retrograde tracing of regenerated motoneurons and morphometric analyses showed that motoneuron survival, motoneuron soma size and axonal diameters were not affected by treatment with the PSA mimetic. However, remyelination of regenerated axons distal to the injury site was considerably improved by the PSA mimetic indicating that effects on Schwann cells in the denervated nerve may underlie the functional effects seen in motor recovery. In line with this notion was the observation that the PSA mimetic enhanced the elongation of Schwann cell processes and Schwann cell proliferation in vitro, when compared with the control peptide. Moreover, Schwann cell proliferation in vivo was enhanced in both motor and sensory branches of the femoral nerve by application of the PSA mimetic. These effects were likely mediated by NCAM through its interaction with the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), since they were not observed when the PSA mimetic was applied to NCAM-deficient Schwann cells, and since application of two different FGFR inhibitors reduced process elongation from Schwann cells in vitro. Our results indicate the potential of PSA mimetics as therapeutic agents promoting motor recovery and myelination after peripheral nerve injury.

Keywords: PSA mimetic; functional recovery; myelination; Schwann cells

Journal Article.  8775 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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